Hydrogen fuel cells always seems to be just beyond the reach of even the world’s largest companies, which can really mean only one thing; car companies need to pool their resources to make hydrogen cars an affordable and practical reality. No wonder Ford, Mercedes, and Nissan have signed a technology pact to produce a car that emits nothing but water by 2017
If you ask automakers what they think is the real future of alternative fuel vehicles, most will say the same thing; hydrogen. Because it is so plentiful and emits only water, cars powered by hydrogen combine quiet and clean EV technology with the ease and convenience of filling something similar conventional combustion engines.
The problem is that this technology is proving increasingly costly to develop, and led Mercedes to delaying deployment of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by another three years, though they have working models on the road now. Hyundai and Toyota have both pledged to start selling hydrogen cars by 2015 or 2016, and Honda will already lease you a FCX Clarity hydrogen car…if you live in California. Toyota and BMW have announced a development deal to produce hydrogen cars, and the Mercedes-Nissan-Ford deal was no doubt in the works for some time too.
The trio of automakers representing arguably the most successful car-making countries will split development costs in the hopes of deploying hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2017. The deal aims to create a hydrogen fuel drivetrain, or “stack” that can be used in three very different vehicles, one sold by each member of the alliance.
The three automakers will share decades of research, as well as try to send a message to politicians and parts makers about what might be called the automotive end-game; clean, affordable, and convenient transportation. But will this alliance finally pan out, or will the goal posts for hydrogen cars move yet again?